Friday, May 8, 2009

Wild Flower Half Ironman 2009 Race Report 5:36:30

Lilia finishing Wild Flower Half Ironman


4 of us (my friends Rebecca, Daniel, Rob and myself) drove down to Lake San Antonio, CA from Seattle, WA. The drive took about 16 hours, we broke it up over 2 days. We got to the camp site Friday around 4pm, set up camp and headed over to the expo where we picked up our race packets and enjoyed some pasta dinner.

It was raining the whole day Friday and we were really worried that it would rain on race day. None of us brought any rain gear. We were convinced it doesn't rain in California, especially on race day :-)

After I packed my race bag, I got out for one final spin on my bike around the camp site to make sure everything felt just right and I saw a little boxer puppy on my way. His name was Kona and he was only 5 months old. He looked just like Ramone (my boxer) did at his age - beautiful fawn with white socks. I had to stop and meet him of course and exchange a few kisses. That meant the race was going to be just fine the next day :-)

Race morning

We all woke up at 6am. I had a bagel with cream cheese, a banana, chilled starbucks coffee and some OJ, then rode my bike to the start with Rebecca. The boys were already there since their race started earlier.

The usual routine to set up transition, then put on sun screen and body glide, go to the bathroom one last time and get suited up. I drank 1.5 x 20 oz bottles of gatorade through the course of the morning and consumed a Gu about 15 minutes before the start. At that point I was pretty full and was worried that I over-ate again like I did at Lake Stevens last summer... But oh well, the wave before us started their swim and we were allowed to do a little warmup in the water.

Swim - 36:59

Best swim ever in a half ironman! All the drills and working on technique paid off :-)

I started out a bit nervous. I haven't done an OWS since January and for some reason I felt a tiny bit of fear that I used to feel on a much larger scale when I first started doing open water swims. I just tried to stay calm and take it easy. Eventually, I got into the groove and found my rythm. For the rest of the swim I tried to focus on my form and keeping consistent pace. My sighting was pretty good for most of the swim. The fact that I am comfortable with bilateral breathing now definitely helped. I only screwed up at the very end when I headed for the starting gate instead of the finishing, which was a bit smaller and less noticeable from the water. I corrected my course after I finally saw the actual swim finish, but I think this mistake cost me at least a minute of my swim time.

Lesson learned: Pay attention to what swim finish looks like before starting the swim.

T1 - 3:05

Bike - 3:12:27

I started out really well and passed a lot of folks on the first big uphill. Then there were some rolling hills, another uphill (where I managed to drop my chain) and a long descent (where I managed to almost loose my saddle bag, so I had to stop to reattache the velcrow). I stayed strong on the uphills and stayed in aero on the rolling hills/pseudo-flats. I wasn't really good at steep descents. I am too much of a chicken - not only were my hands on the breaks but I also used them... A lot people who I passed on the uphill passed me right back on the descent. That's bad news especially given that I am supposed to be a roadie now and posess some bike handling skills.

I hit 28 miles at about 1:33. If I could have hit the same split on the second half I would have broken 5:30 for my total time.

Then came the Nasty Grade hill at mile 42. And it was nasty indeed. The kind of nasty when you want to stand up on your bike periodically. (And it takes a steep grade for me to stand up - normally I prefer to maintain my pedaling rythm by sitting in the saddle the whole way up the hill). Unfortunately, my tri bike is not ideal for standing up. My knees hit the elbow pads if I try to do that, so I just had to mash it all the way up. Then there was another steep downhill and some more smaller hills to the finish. I was happy when this ride was over!

Nutrition: I had 2 x 24oz bottles with about 400 calories of Carbo Pro in each. That was a bit too much. About half way through I couldn't stand Carbo Pro any more and just wanted some regular water, which thankfully they served on the course.

Lessons learned:

  1. Need to work on my descending skills on the tri bike.
  2. Must attach another bottle cage to my bike for regular water.
  3. Should replace my saddle bag with the one that won't fall of during the Ironman.
  4. 800 calories is too much for half ironman. Will try 300 calories in each bottle next time.

T2 - 2:05

Run - 1:41:54

I felt very strong off the bike. Perhaps, if I rode any harder than I did, I would not have been able to put in such a run performance... I just ran as fast as I could and passed tons of people thoughout the whole run. I was great on the uphills, but even better on the downhills (my usual strength). I only got passed by one guy. I slowed down just a bit in the last 2 miles (once we hit the pavement again), but I didn't totally fade and was able to finish really strong.

Nutrition: I drank a sip of gatorade and a sip of water at each aid station and consumed 1/2 a Gu at mile 7

Post Race

Daniel was already done (5 hour speed monster) and took a great finishing picture of me (Thanks, Daniel!) I stretched for a long time and asked for some ice from the medical tent for my calfs since the right one was injured last week. I don't think it was necessary but it felt good. I ate a bunch of oranges and bananas and drank lots of water while we waited for the rest of our group to finish.

On our way North the next day we stopped in Napa for a couple hours. It was a great detour! We tasted some delicious wines at Peju Province winery. What a great small winery. Their Syrah was amazing!

Wild Flower is certainly my favorite of all the triathlons I've done so far! It's the one and only - so hard and so much fun! I'll be back here again some other year! :-)